How many times have you heard, "just take some deep breaths"? What does this actually do?
The way we breathe is strongly associated with how we feel. Notice your breath the next time you feel worried or stressed. What is the quality of your breath? Is it shallow or tight? Notice it when you are feeling relaxed and see what happens to it.
When we are anxious, our breath tends to be more shallow, which blows off CO2. By pursing our lips when we exhale, we are causing our breath to be released more slowly. This has an instant effect on our nervous system.
Practice daily - when you are NOT stressed. This way, when you need it, it will be easier to implement.
1) Sit or lie down comfortably. Close your eyes if you would like to
2) Breathe slowly and steadily in through your nose for a count of 4
3) Hold your breath for a count of 2
4) Breathe out slowly and steadily for a count of 4
5) Repeat for several breaths
An interesting study done by Pierre Phillipot showed that not only can we change how we feel using our breath, but that it is a loop that works both ways. How we breathe and how we feel are integral.
There are lots of ways to practice breathing - the yogis really recognized the important effect this has on us. There are numerous pranayama exercises that can be incorporated into your meditation practice. One of my favorite books that talks about pranic energy is Moola Bandha: The Master Key by Swami Buddhananda.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.